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Jets’n’Guns Review

Developer: Rake in Grass Publisher: Rake in Grass
Release Date: March 30, 2005 Also On: None

After Tetris and Breakout, horizontal scrolling shooters are probably the most overused game concept. While they were a very popular genre once that was home to some best selling games, they have been in decline for some time now (really once 3D games began to circulate liberally among gamers). It is difficult to market 2D games today and in this particular genre it seems that everything has already been done. That does not mean that horizontal shooters are dead though. They are still popular with independent developers around the world and especially in Japan. Most of those games are not noticed by the gaming public because you have seen that game before, haven’t you?

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Is Jets’n’Guns standing out enough to deserve being noticed? Well, yes and no. There is not really any big new thing in the game. What makes the game worth checking out is that it is really well done and focuses on certain things. The special thing in this game is the weapons. There are lots of them. They are not found on the battlefield like in many other shooters but bought in a shop between missions.

You have a fixed number of weapon slots on your ship, one for missiles, one for bombs, one for a rear weapon and three for the front weapons. That is if you already have the better ship that you only get after some missions into the campaign. You have to buy the weapons with money you make in the missions. You get money for destroying things, collecting gold, capturing pirates etc.

It is really difficult to choose which of the over 50 weapons in the game to build in. Every weapon is unique and most of them are useful. It depends on your personal taste and the next mission what weapon combination to use. Often, a weapon does not make sense on its own or combined with the wrong other weapons. There is more customization than just weapons. You can upgrade your hull, cooling system (so that your weapons do not overheat so often) and other useful things. In the beginning it is hard to choose a working combination that you can afford with your limited money resources and this is one of the main challenges in the game.

The level design is not really outstanding but still very good. Levels differ enough to be interesting, every level is unique. Sometimes your task even differs from “shoot everything on screen without dying”. The story could not be used to write a book but it is still okay for a shooter game. Lots of clichés and humor are used and the game almost manages to create a complete style. The graphics are well done 2D. There are lots of different enemies, it seldom gets repeating. All the weapons create different effects that always look nice (but sometimes make it difficult to spot enemies). The great thing is the sound. The music by Machine Supremacy is really good and the sound effects are satisfying. It feels good to destroy things and that is what is important. It makes the game fun and addicting. I played it 7 hours straight!

Jets’n’Guns is a top shooter. It has lots of little details, great weapons, good gameplay and an up-to-date presentation. To be a top game it is missing some things though. The first thing is that it is too short and linear. The game can be finished in less than five hours. You can and probably will replay it on a higher difficulty once or twice but it is still short. The second is that it needs a little more revolution. There are some nice elements in the game but I could imagine a lot more. How about a cooperative multiplayer mode? A space map that lets you choose what to do next with predesigned and randomly generated levels mixed together? Expanding the customization concept and include even more different weapons and – important – more than two different ships? I would certainly love to see a sequel with improvements like that because Jets’n’Guns is already a good game and I want more of it.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 9.5
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 8.1
Written by Ortwin Review Guide